Every year, millions of teeth are saved with a root canal treatment. It’s a fairly common procedure that, nevertheless, puts people on edge. When most people think about root canals, they think about how painful it supposedly is. What they may not realize is that the real pain isn’t actually from the procedure itself. It’s from the infection taking hold in the base of the tooth.
A root canal isn’t about causing pain. It’s about relieving it.
What It Is
A root canal is used to repair and save a tooth that is either badly decayed or has an infection. Usually, this is when an infection in the nerve has damaged the pulp. The treatment involves removing the nerve and the pulp, then cleaning the inside of the tooth before sealing it up again.
The inflammation or infection could be caused by a number of things. It might be a faulty dental crown, a crack or chip in the tooth, deep decay, or simply from having a lot of procedures performed on the same tooth. Of course, it could also be from some other kind of trauma that doesn’t leave any visible damage to the outside of the tooth.
When Do You Need One?
There are several signs that might indicate that it’s time for a root canal. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Extreme teeth pain when you chew or apply any sort of pressure to them.
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, even after the source of the heat or cold has been removed.
- Swelling or tenderness in the nearby gums, or a persistent or recurring pimple in the gums.
- A single tooth becoming very dark or discolored.
A root canal starts with an x-ray to see the shape of the canals and find any signs of infection around the bone surrounding the root. We’ll then use an anesthetic to make sure that any discomfort is minimized. An access hole will need to be drilled into the tooth, then the pulp, bacteria, and decayed nerve will be removed. We’ll use a series of files to get everything out of there and make sure it’s completely clean before being sealed up.
There may be some extra steps, depending on your situation, but this is the basic procedure that has been used consistently over the years.
Root Canal Awareness Week – March 22-28, 2015
Well, because everything else has a week or day devoted to it, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that even root canals have a special time in which we promote awareness of the topic. This isn’t just some new thing. The American Association of Endodontists has been promoting Root Canal Awareness Week for nine years now.
So what exactly is something like this trying to promote? Surely we don’t need a whole week to remind us to take care of our teeth.
The simple fact is that there are a lot of misunderstandings and misinformation out there about root canals – the most wide-spread being that a root canal procedure is full of nothing but pain and discomfort, and should only be used as a last resort on people who didn’t know enough to take care of their teeth in the first place.
This week, the goal is to help people understand that root canals are not, in fact, the source of pain. Most patients report that root canals are no more painful than any other cavity and filling. The pain comes from the inflammation or infection in the root of the tooth.
Root Canal Awareness Week is about helping patients understand that root canals aren’t about pain. They’re about relieving pain.
So don’t put it off any longer. Come in and talk to us and stop trying to deal with the pain when there is relief just around the corner.